I met today’s guest, Shivani Hawkins at an event about decentering whiteness in yoga and mindfulness spaces. I was touched by her deep connection to and reverence for her Hindu lineage, as well as her depth of practice, understanding, knowledge and philosophy. We live in an age when it’s easy to take pieces of all sorts of teachings, so to be around someone who has gone so deep with one, is a beautiful thing.
Her big truth was about how everything comes down to the art of seeing. From there we got into practicing self-inquiry without shame, the difference between shaming and holding people accountable, and how shame is not inherent in truth.
We also discussed how harm occurs as the result of a lack of self-inquiry because the choices we make that are not examined can only go the way of our conditioning.
We talked about the difference between meditation and visualization, and my favorite part of the conversation was about the difference between seeing, listening and hearing.
I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did. You’ll probably want to listen more than once and I encourage you to also use this as a conversation starter with loved ones.
About Shivani Hawkins:
Shivani is a meditation teacher and multi-disciplinary artist, and the founder of Living Sanskrit. Born both American and into the yogic tradition, she is devoted to preserving and accurately practicing ancient indigenous wisdom in modern times and non-native contexts.
Shivani first heard Sanskrit in the womb, and not a day has gone by without it. She grew up immersed in dharma culture, yogic teachings, and sacred practices under the guidance of her spiritual teacher and also her grandmother.
Living Sanskrit is the culmination of a long-held dream to keep this tradition alive and share its magnificent gifts with the world.
Shivani started teaching meditation in 2001, and professionally a few years later at the suggestion of her spiritual teacher. Since then, Shivani has shared meditation with thousands of people at venues that range from corporate offices to hospitals to schools. From 2008-2014, Shivani was a Fellow with the Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness and Law, leading retreats and weekly meditation sessions at Berkeley Law School.
Alongside teaching, Shivani is a prolific artist, photographer, and writer. She is a graduate of the Waterfront Conservatory and Playhouse, a member of the California Bar, and has a J.D. from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in Rhetoric with minors in Theater, Business Administration, and South Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
She lives with her beloved husband Nick in Redwood City, California, where she can often be found dancing, gardening, listening to birdsong, and hiking in nature.
Connect with Shivani:
What You’ll Hear:
5:38 The importance of practicing self-inquiry without shame
7:46 How un-examined choices can only go the way of our conditioning
9:28 Why it’s so important to create a shame-free space for meditation
14:15 The difference between seeing, listening, and hearing
19:05 Learning to see yourself and external reality at the same time
19:53 Meditation being the practice of listening deeply
21:23 What keeps us from truly listening
22:34 The value of having a deep, committed practice in a culture of seeking & tasting
23:46 The difference between practice that connects you to reality and practice that is addictive
26:00 Shame versus accountability
29:00 The importance of recognizing you are not bad even when you harm
34:11 Why we need to own the pieces of us that we may feel shame about
43:25 When Shivani knows that it’s time to take a social media break
51:17 Determining what is yours to do & when you are not staying in your lane
53:35 The commonalities across all mystical journeys to spiritual truths
55:49 Committing to self-inquiry in order to uncover the motives behind your actions
57:30 The stillness that follows uncovering truth
Click here to watch/listen or scroll upward to listen only:
“The single most important thing that we can do as an act of love and service to ourselves and to the world is practice self-inquiry without shame.” – Shivani Hawkins
“Shame is where you go when you don’t want to do the work of self-inquiry.” – Shivani Hawkins
“If you only see what’s in front of you and you’re not seeing yourself in the context of what is there, you are not seeing.” – Shivani Hawkins
“You are no longer the same person once you have really listened to something.” – Shivani Hawkins
“Go wide in your awareness but go deep in your practice, in your action, and your application.” – Elizabeth DiAlto
“Don’t be afraid of yourself. You are beautiful. Whatever you are is contained in the universe and whatever is in the universe is contained in you so you don’t have to be afraid, just let it in. Let truth in.” – Shivani Hawkins
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